Lt. Hall looked at his subordinates trotting back to their tracked vehicles, but his mind was busy with a more pressing issue than what his troopers were about to start. His preferred communications link with Troop A, the radio, has been on and off during the morning. As a result of that Troop A hasn’t been informed of the early morning tank breakdown or how worse 1st Platoon’s tardiness was going to be. And then, that tank icon in the FBCB2 screen he was hoping to be a glitch or somebody’s error.
“You got Alpha 6, Corporal?”, Hall asked his radio operator.
“Sir, I have a Marine company on the Troop’s net. They seem to be engaged”, answered the weary trooper, his voice barely audible over the frantic radio traffic full of zap numbers, reinforcement pleads and the cacophony of battle sneaking into hot mics.
“Ah, to the hell with it, ask Olson to text Alpha 6 with his FBCB2. Let’s see if the thing is worth something”, a resigned Hall said. He was holding his trustworthy Cammenga compass in one hand as if asking forgiveness to the thing for breaking a secret oath.
The troopers rolled out quickly. Swiftness was just in their DNA.
In both right and left flanks, the killer teams. “Movement to contact … Victors ahead … pack the Javs!” The troopers braced for the short trip towards their dismount point.
In the center, SSG Olson cautiously moved his squad ahead, aiming towards a thin stretch of houses from where he hoped to call targets for the two killer teams in his flanks.
“Dogs … it’s always the goddamn dogs”
A handful of overzealous dogs of assorted breeds barked away SSG Olson’s cover. All SSG Olson’s men were forced to make a run for the stretch of houses. A trooper faked he was grabbing a rock and throwing it at the noisy bunch because, alas, none of the dogs did flinch when almost every man in the squad pointed their carbines at them. The bark of the dogs erased the noises of the Syrian troops across the river.
“Now they know we are here …”
“Contact … tank … PC”
Shortly after dismounting in the slope of Hill 425, SSG Giessen and his men found an enemy tank and two enemy infantry fighting vehicles across the river. Not a word within the squad members, the AT specialist assembled the Javelin launcher and started taking aim at them. SSG Giessen radioed the contacts to Lt. Hall. He was very pleased to be making the call and actually seeing the enemy.
“What PCs you got there, Giessen?” Lt. Hall inquired.
“BMPs, Sir” SSG Giessen replied.
“How many and how long their antennas?” Came back Lt. Hall, his anxiousness growing.
Giessen chuckled: Lt. Hall was templating. No doubt Lt. Hall was a fine Cavalryman, but since the invasion started they have seen the Syrian Army to do so many different things. Sometimes the Syrians fought in formations out of a Soviet field manual, geometrically down to the meter. Other times the Syrians fought very much like Hezbollah, sneaking AT missile teams disguised in civilian clothes and vehicles near US armored convoys.
Most of the times the Syrians didn’t make any sense at all.
A tank shell coming from across the river sent everybody but the Javelin guy down to hug the earth. The shot came short and exploded some meters ahead of SSG Giessen’s team. “Always short!”, lamented one trooper who was already a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To this day, he doesn’t know if this pattern in gunnery he saw in the two wars is due to substandard propellant in the shells or lack of proficiency by the gunners. Whatever the case, he would have preferred the shots to pass over his head as it was really unnerving to loose sight of the enemy in a cloud of dust. Every soul in the squad waited for the launch of the Javelin then they immediately bugged out of sight.
To be continued ...